The Cheshire Planning and Zoning Commission voted on Monday evening to hold a public hearing on a possible change to zoning regulations regarding chickens and who can own them.
The Commissioners were presented with two options to present to the public, both of which would result in a big change in who can own and keep chickens on their property. The first proposal, titled Proposal A, would allow for chickens to be owned by residents who live on a lot that is at least 20,000 square-feet in size, with all chickens kept in a building or enclosure located in a rear yard, no less than 35 feet from any lot line and at least 125 feet from any neighboring residences.
The second proposal, Proposal B, would only require that chickens be housed in an enclosure located in a rear yard and no less than 35 feet from any lot line and at least 125 feet from any neighboring residences. It would not include the 20,000-square-foot requirement.
Commissioner Sean Strollo offered support for the first option.
“I do worry about the 20,000 (square) foot requirement. I think that it might be limiting for some residences that aren’t even 20,000 to begin with,” said Strollo.
Town planner William Voelker explained that, since the Planning Department had begun work on drafting the new regulations, his office has received phone calls from the public.
“We have gotten some calls from people who don’t want this and are against it happening in town, so I don’t know if this is going to be as easy as some might think,” he said.
The issue was first brought to the attention of the PZC back in May by Cheshire student Gracie Thomas, who asked that the regulations limiting who can own chickens be revised so that she and her family would be allowed to raise them on the Thomas’ current property.
Commissioner Gil Linder expressed his opposition to any regulation changes.
“I don’t think we should change the regulations at all or even consider this,” he said. “I don’t know of a ground swell of people who actually want this, and why change the regulations? I am totally against any sort of change in the regulations regarding this.”
Conversely, Commissioner Rob Brucato expressed his support for the regulation change, citing the economy as a factor.
“I say, let the people have their chickens,” he added. “In this economy, let people have their fresh eggs and whatnot, what's the harm?”
Commissioner Tom Selmont added his support, stating that he has heard from Cheshire residents who want the regulations changed, and suggested that studies done show the benefits of raising chickens on one’s property.
Currently, Cheshire regulations state that, in order to own chickens one must live on a lot that is no less than 80,000 square feet in size; no more than 12 chickens can be kept on the lot; roosters are prohibited on lots less than three acres in size; and all chickens must be kept in an enclosure that is located in a rear yard and no less than 50 feet from any lot line.
The Commissioners voted 4-3 to present Proposal A in its entirety to the public at a hearing in October. The date for the public hearing has yet to be set.